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Carter v. Vickery

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 22, 2017

TODD QUAVION CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT VICKERY, KIM CAMPBELL, and BRYAN GERRY, Defendants.[1]

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se plaintiff and prisoner Todd Carter is proceeding on claims that prison staff violated his Eighth Amendment rights by refusing to help him, either when he informed them he was suicidal or when he intentionally overdosed on medication. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, Dkt. 21, which is ready for review. I will grant the motion because the undisputed evidence shows that none of the defendants disregarded Carter's health or safety.

         Also before the court is defendants' motion to extend the deadline for conducting discovery and submitting pretrial materials. Dkt. 32. In light of the decision on summary judgment, I will deny that motion as moot.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         Carter did not dispute any of defendants' proposed findings of fact, so I have treated defendants' properly supported proposed findings of fact as undisputed.

         At the time relevant to this case, Todd Carter was a prisoner housed in segregation at the Columbia Correctional Institution, which is in Portage, Wisconsin. On October 17, 2014, Bryan Gerry, a correctional officer at the prison, went to Carter's cell after another officer told Gerry that Carter was refusing to close the trap in his cell door. When Gerry arrived, Carter displayed his right hand to Gerry (presumably through a window in the cell door), then moved the hand to his mouth and “motioned liked he swallowed.” Dkt. 28, ¶ 11. Carter yelled out that he took 40 pills and that Gerry saw him do it.

         Gerry had not seen any pills in Carter's hand and he did not believe that Carter had swallowed any pills. Carter did not tell Gerry at any time that he was feeling suicidal or that he needed to see mental health staff.

         Staff directed Carter to come to the cell door. When Carter refused, a lieutenant assembled a team to remove Carter from the cell. Eventually, Carter agreed to comply with orders and he walked to the dayroom with officers.

         Because Carter alleged that he swallowed pills, defendant Kim Campbell, a nurse at the prison, examined him. Gerry searched Carter's cell, found one pill, and brought it to Campbell, who identified it as Thorazine, one of Carter's prescribed medications. Campbell noted that Carter was alert and oriented. She did not observe anything abnormal.

         Campbell discussed the situation with defendant Robert Vickrey, a psychiatrist at the prison. At that point, Carter's vital signs were “mildly elevated.” Id. at ¶ 26. (Medical records show that Carter's heart rate was 100 beats per minute.) Vickrey ordered an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure Carter's “QT (QTc) prolongation, ” which is an increase in the time between the two phases of the heart's electrical cycle. Overdosing on Thorazine could cause QT(QTc) prolongation, which could lead to sudden cardiac failure. The EKG showed that Carter's QT(QTc) prolongation was in the normal range. Vickrey also observed that Carter was awake and able to walk on his own, which is inconsistent with a Thorazine overdose.

         In light of the EKG result and these observations, Vickrey concluded that Carter could be returned to his cell. Vickrey directed staff to take Carter's vital signs again in two hours. And Vickrey was aware of security policy that required staff to monitor Carter every 15 minutes.

         Two hours later, staff took Carter's vital signs, which showed “low blood pressure and increased heart rate.” Id. at ¶ 35. (Medical records show that his blood pressure was 126/80 lying down, 118/79 sitting, and 86/50 standing. His pulse was 86 lying down, 124 sitting, 156 standing and 108 after a second check while standing.) Vickrey directed staff to send Carter to the hospital.

         At the hospital, Carter denied any fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain, or nausea, but he complained of “mild GI upset, ” and staff observed that he was “extremely lethargic.” Dkt. 25-1, at 7. Hospital test results indicated that Carter had ingested cocaine and TCA, which is an ...


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